Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THIRTEEN AT TABLE, by PIERRE JEAN DE BERANGER



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THIRTEEN AT TABLE, by            
First Line: I spilt the salt, one day -- and worse
Last Line: I've looked on death, and do not fear!
Subject(s): Death; Dead, The


I.

I SPILT the salt, one day, -- and, worse,
"Thirteen at table! Sure, some curse
Is in the omens! Such the way
That Death gives warning, -- so they say."
Scarce had I spoken, when a sprite,
Young, handsome, joyous, met my sight;
Whereat I cried, "Friends! be of cheer!
I've looked on Death, and do not fear!"

II.

A gay, invited guest she seemed;
With fairest flowers her forehead gleamed;
A rainbow arched her head around;
A broken chain was on the ground;
And, sweetly nestling on her breast,
A sleeping baby lay at rest.
Fill up, my friends! -- No danger's near;
I've looked on Death, and do not fear!

III.

"Why tremble?" said the spirit, -- "why?
Sister of Hope, Heaven's daughter I!
From weary necks I lift the yoke;
I touch the slave, -- his chain is broke,
To man -- fallen angel -- I restore
The seraph wings he had of yore!"
" O maid!" I cried, "thou'rt welcome here!
I've looked on Death, and do not fear!"

IV.

"By me released from carnal thrall,
The soul, beyond this earthly ball,
Shall range in yonder azure clime,
In spacious fields and paths sublime;
But here, oppressed by fleshly woes,
Ah! little joy the spirit knows!"
A bumper to that higher sphere!
I've looked on Death, and do not fear!

V.

Alas! although I bid her stay,
The lovely vision flies away;
In vain we mortals wish to shun
The rest that waits our journey done;
Life is a ship, mere sailors we;
And tide and wind are fair and free.
Thirteen! Who cares? God's smile is here;
I've looked on Death, and do not fear!





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